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The Afterparty Continues
Back to the Shores of Tripoli

As ISIS advances in Libya, the radical jihadist group could soon be attacking shipping in the Mediterranean. Noting ISIS’s latest achievements in the failed North African state, Seth Cropsey warns of worse to come in The Wall Street Journal:

Greater ISIS access to the Mediterranean would be deeply troubling to the region and a large strategic advance for the terrorist group. ISIS’s prospects for significant naval power are remote. But small boats, fishing vessels, smugglers, and merchant craft that carry concealed weapons could hijack, sink, or rake commercial shipping including cruise liners in the central Mediterranean. This would divide the eastern part of the inland sea from its west and expose Europe’s southern littoral to attacks and kidnappings.

Containing this will be more difficult than most Americans realize, Cropsey notes:

In the Cold War era, the U.S. Sixth Fleet, America’s Mediterranean naval force, consisted of two aircraft carriers, an amphibious ready group and escorting vessels. Today it consists of a command ship based in Italy and a handful of destroyers armed with guided missiles based in Spain. In a crisis the Sixth Fleet commander must rely on naval combatants that might be passing through on their way to or from the Persian Gulf.

The Western intervention in Libya in 2011 created a collapsed state, and unfortunately (though not entirely unpredictably), a group such as ISIS was perfectly positioned to capitalized on that. Now, we must reckon with the consequences.

One of the ways that reckoning is likely to come, as Cropsey’s comments suggest, is in the form of increased military activity (not just active fighting, but activity such as naval patrols) in areas we’d hoped to write off as pacified. Such developments will only accelerate America’s ongoing trends toward rearmament and a more aggressive foreign policy.

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  • Monroe David

    Boats on the water is different from boots on the ground. The USA can defend ISIS on the water and control the shore line. It can also launch air power from the water. If you want to fight ISIS, then fight them on and from the water.

    • Corlyss

      First the CIC has to want to fight . . . He don’t want to fight no how.

  • gabrielsyme

    The only chance Libya had of emerging from the overthrow of Qaddafi intact and in relative peace was for the King of Libya to be restored to play the role of arbiter between factions, tribes, regions and interests, and as a locus for loyalty. Even that would be no guarantee, but the alternative taken was absolutely doomed to failure.

    Obama and his sycophants are far too woolly-headed to have seen this, but even if they had, it would have been impossible to sell to the American people. In a similar way, the only long-term solution to Syria and Iraq involves partition and a restoration of a Hashemite monarchy in at least the Sunni nations.

    • MLJ

      I think the Libya intervention was Hillary Clinton’s idea… Obama was not in favor of it and may be the reason there was no follow-up. Either way, a big mess.

    • Corlyss

      “King of Libya to be restored”
      Um . . . where’s his power base in Libya?

      • gabrielsyme

        Short answer: the Senussi of Cyrenaica. Longer answer: it actually helps the legitimacy of the King not to be the representative of a dominant faction. A power base is often helpful, but it can be counter-productive if other factions in society see the monarchy as a means to the domination of one particular faction.

  • Fat_Man

    Once Again, we cannot care more about this problem than the Europeans do. The Mediterranean is not an important part of the world to the United States and the American Economy. In 1800 it was. But, since then the entire area has stagnated and become a backwater. Only Israel and northern Italy belong to the 21st century economy. The rest of it is good only for olive oil and tourism.

    If the Moors once again conduct slave raids on the countries of Europe, they will need to solve the problem. We should help them with technology and training, but they have to provide the manpower and buy the weapons.

    • f1b0nacc1

      While I completely concur with your analysis, let me take it a step further….we should do NOTHING, and make it clear to the EUnicks that we have no intention of becoming involved on any level, training or otherwise. We have no crucial national interests here, let those who do sort matters out to their own satisfaction.

  • iconoclast

    Instead of sending in the Marines, maybe a few MOAB and cluster munitions would take care of the problem.

    Being precise is expensive and doesn’t really solve the problem. Better to kill them all and let G*d recognize his own.

    • f1b0nacc1


  • S.C. Schwarz

    There is no Sixth Fleet because we can’t afford the Sixth Fleet. The direction of American military spending is down, not up. As entitlements continue to swallow everything military spending will continue to decrease and that decrease will accelerate. Europe, of course, is even worse having effectively disarmed. And now the barbarians are at the gates.

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